No county parade, but Phelps party in Baltimore will have Towson touch

Almost immediately after Michael Phelps' record-setting Olympic performance earlier this summer, Baltimore County Director of Tourism and Promotion Marjorie Hampson began getting calls from county residents asking how they could honor Towson's Olympic hero.

One resident wanted to bake a cake for the occasion.

Another offered to sing a song during the ceremony.

A third, recalling the 2008 parade in Phelps' honor that marched down York Road in Towson, offered a driveway off York Road to use for a stage.

Countless more simply wondered when and where the event would take place. The answer, however, may prove disappointing to some Phelps fans in the swimmer's native Towson.

Governor Martin O'Malley, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will honor Phelps at a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 10, 4 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, Pratt and Light streets, Baltimore.

Hampson said the downtown event is the only celebration planned at this point, and is in line with Phelps' plans for later that evening — according to Hampson, Phelps will be honored before kickoff of Monday night's Baltimore Ravens home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Even if the location isn't ideal for Towson residents, Hampson said Towson will be well represented at the ceremony.

"We are going to have the good old Towson High Generals, an 85-member band who's going to play at the event, as well as the flag girls carrying the flags and adorning the stage," she said.

Additionally, Hampson said, Towson High School Principal Jane Barranger, fellow school administrators and County Council members will attend, and the Honor Guard will present our nation's colors at the ceremony.

Back home in Baltimore County, Hampson said Phelps will be invited to a separate ceremony at Baltimore County's Olympian Park — at which Phelps' plaque will be updated, and the county's Paralympians will be honored for their accomplishments. A date for that event has not been set. If Phelps can't make the ceremony, Hampson said his mother will be invited to represent him.

At that event, a monument will be added for 2000 swimming gold medalist Tommy Hannan, who was not yet represented in the park, located off the Towson roundabout.

After Phelps' record-breaking accomplishments, many had hoped for another parade through Towson to honor the longtime Rodgers Forge resident.

But Hampson said it's enough to be represented at the statewide celebration.

"We always were at the direction of his agents," she said. "If his agents didn't approve, we wouldn't have had what we had last time. We're going with it."

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